Published by Chicken House on May 5th 2016
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Forbidden to leave her island, Isabella Riosse dreams of the faraway lands her father once mapped.
When her closest friend disappears into the island’s Forgotten Territories, she volunteers to guide the search. As a cartographer’s daughter, she’s equipped with elaborate ink maps and knowledge of the stars, and is eager to navigate the island’s forgotten heart.
But the world beyond the walls is a monster-filled wasteland – and beneath the dry rivers and smoking mountains, a legendary fire demon is stirring from its sleep. Soon, following her map, her heart and an ancient myth, Isabella discovers the true end of her journey: to save the island itself.
The Girl of Ink & Stars reminds me of the fairy-tales I used to read as a child; memories of being swept away on fantastical journeys that awoke my imagination and stayed with me long after I closed the book came flooding back as I sat, fixed to my seat and devoured every sumptuous scene.
Isabella lives on the isle of Joya, an island rich in history and myth. Surrounded by the maps her father has skilfully drawn of far-off lands such as Afric, Amrica and Europa, Isabella longs to uncover the mysteries of lands much closer to home. Since the Governor Adori arrived in Joya, the borders to the Forgotten Territories have been closed, the seas have been off limits and any hopes for adventure and intrigue have been firmly quashed. Something in the air is changing however, strange occurrences, sightings and a dark oppressive force lurks on the horizon. When Isabella’s best friend goes missing, only the skills she learned from her father offer her friend any hope for a safe return. Armed with her tools and knowledge of cartography, Isabella joins the scouting team and discovers that the world beyond the curtain of mystery contains more than she could have ever imagined.
At its heart, this book is very much about friendship and family and I loved that message. I adored the relationship Isabella had with her Da, how her love for cartography gave them the chance to grow closer amidst heartbreak and strengthened their bond. The friendship between Isabella and Lupe was the highlight of the book for me; despite the differences in their background and upbringing, their bond transcended that and the two formed a strong and sweet relationship. Both female characters stood out for me, with Lupe’s spunky attitude and fearlessness tempered by Isabella’s thoughtful nature and more reserved manner.
The book flowed nicely, never stuttering and kept me interested. The writing is gorgeous, Hargrave’s talent for imagery that is vivid and tangible is clear on every page as the reader is taken on a journey that is heaving with emotion, action and adventure that was honestly unexpected given the target audience and I applaud the efforts to create a story that isn’t afraid to take risks and take the road less travelled in an MG book.
The world building intrigued me greatly and the glimpses we did get, stirred a longing in me for more. The book focuses more on characters and plot which is always welcome however I can’t help but wonder what other precious gems are to be uncovered in Hargrave’s world and long for just.a.little.more!
Packed with mystery, adventure and a beautifully diverse cast of unforgettable characters, The Girl of Ink and Stars is a wonderfully written and imaginative book, with a richly descriptive world and a strong mythical core. A Middle-Grade Fantasy that will be loved by children and adults alike, this debut deserves all the praise!
Side note: I’m aching to get my hands on a finished copy of this book as if the proof copy is anything to go by, it will have pride of place on my bookshelf. It is absolutely beautiful, each page is illustrated with navigational symbols that adds to this gloriously beautiful book and made the reading experience even more pleasurable.
Note: This will be published in the US as The Cartographer’s Daughter
Over to you!
Have you read The Girl of Ink & Stars? What were your thoughts? Do you like books with illustrations? Do you have any recommendations for similar books? Let me know in the comments! <3